Have you ever wondered if the last Muskie or Pike you caught was male or female? It's a common question that everyone has when you're learning about trophy freshwater fishing. Gendering a Muskie or Pike is quite simple, have them fill out a form! Sexual differences between Female & Male Muskies Jokes aside, the simplest way to identify an Esox's gender is to support and gently turn the fish over. On the underside of the Muskies and Pike is a visible pinkish-red urogenital opening (a.k.a. "vent") near the anal fin. Male fish have a "key-hole" shaped vent while females have a "pear" shaped vent. Female Esox have larger vents than males to help release BB-sized eggs during spawning. While the difference is minor, Northern Pike and Muskies have slightly different internal and external urogenital anatomy. In Pike, the genitalREAD MORE >
Canada has held a long tradition of conservation. It first started with First Nations (Native Americans). Next, was the movement of university-trained foresters and industry leaders near the end of the 19th century. The work of “Canada’s first celebrity conservationist”, Jack Miner, led to the Canada-US Convention Protecting Migratory Birds. This paved the way for future conservationists and biodiversity research to protect our ecosystem. Since 1994, Ontario has enacted slot limits to help preserve our fisheries. Today, many anglers take part in “catch and release”. Which ensures the long-term health of Ontario’s vast ecology. Equipment & Landing It’s always a good idea to prepare for the catch of a lifetime. Understand the kind of fish species you will be targeting and the potential size you have to land. The fishing net isREAD MORE >
What’s the difference between Pike and Pickerel? A seemingly simple question but one that can have confusing answers depending on where you are. I grew up in a fishing camp in Northeastern Ontario, Canada and had great opportunities to meet many individuals from all across the US, Canada, UK, Australia and many other countries. What can be fascinating are the names we give fish that are similar and yet can be wildly different. For those in the US, when asking this question they may have the idea of a Northern Pike vs a Chain Pickerel. Whereas here in Canada, Pickerel refers to Walleye in the US or Zander in other parts of the world. French River Northern Pike - Northeastern Ontario So who is right? Perhaps our confusion in North America can be thanked by the late British Rear-Admiral, Sir John Franklin. In Chapter 3 of his booREAD MORE >
Muskie and Northern Pike are North America's two favourite trophy game fish. Both swim silently through the turbid waters of the French River, Ontario. Before exploding into action, striking unsuspecting prey from cover. At a glance, these two slender and toothy apex freshwater predators can be easily mistaken for the other. Just like walleye and sauger, identifying subtle differences between “Muskie vs Northern Pike” is key to understanding their respective habitats. Mike Elhers holding a 55 inch French River Muskie in front of Bear's Den Lodge Are Muskie and Pike the Same? In short, no. Despite their slimy disposition, Northern Pike and Muskie are only close relatives. Both species are from the genus “Esox” along with other members of the Pike family such as Amur Pike, Chain Pickerel and Southern Pike. TREAD MORE >
Bear’s Den Lodge, a number one tourism full-service business in the French River, Municipality of Killarney area, has gone through a major transformation over the past 35 years. Since 1986, the daily operations and maintenance at the lodge located along Highway 69 now 400 North in Alban, Ontario have been managed by owners Art and Brenda Barefoot, along with their son, Joe Barefoot. The Lodge owners were born in two neighboring small rural communities in Southern PA and each were raised in large families. Their families were well-versed in traditional farming, housekeeping, and banking. When Art & Brenda Barefoot were married -- fishing, hunting, farming, and foraging became part of the new family’s way of life. The Dream Long hours and days away from each other lead the Barefoots to seeking an opportunity of hard work to their own entrepreneurial endeavors. ArREAD MORE >
Life is a journey that can be full of challenges and unexpected surprises hiding behind even the most simple rock structures. For Chris and his son Austin, they visited the lower French River Delta for just a day out fishing the same as when Chris remembered growing up fishing with his father. My Experience Fishing “My father was the one who started me on fishing. Just about every day — every morning we would go to a spot to catch bait fish with a dip net. Later we would go to one of our bass spots and catch our limit. My father and I would go home and clean all the fish. We probably ate fish about three or four nights a week growing up... Sadly, my father passed away thirteen years ago so I decided to embark on this musky quest because of him. I felt it would be a new challenge to try musky fishing.” “I started musky fishing three years ago. At first, I thought iREAD MORE >
Guess what we found? As we were cleaning out our old files we stumbled upon this old report. We thought we should share these significant historical records supplied by Bear's Den Lodge and compiled by Biologist George E. Moran of the French River Cooperative Fisheries Unit. This data includes musky historical records from 1961 - 1994 with a 5 year gap in record when the lodge was not in operation. In 1989, Art Barefoot caught a 59 lb 11 oz French River musky which set a new record for the 14 Pound Line-Class World Record and still remains today. Unfortunately, the fish was caught in the gills making it unable to be returned to the river system. This sparked interest for the new lodge owner to suggest a need for conservation and preservation of the freshwater ecosystem. The report above was one of those many surveys conducted to help understand the population of theREAD MORE >
One of the best times to fish for French River Musky is in the fall season (from late-August to October). The cooler autumn days bring about a change in the musky’s behaviour – going from a territorial couchpotato snatching up easy prey to a nomadic hunter as they move from structure to structure in the shortening daylight cycle. [caption id="attachment_2510" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Harry with French River Musky[/caption] This change in behaviour can be seen as early as the last full moon in August as the younger male muskies return from the Georgian Bay following the salmon and alewife looking for waters richer in oxygen and food for spawn. Muskies particularly begin to display this behaviour, when the water temps begin to drop to around 15°C (59°F). Their instincts drive them to binge feed before going into a torpor (much like bears hibernating) during the winter monREAD MORE >
On his first trip to Bear’s Den Lodge, 10 year old Tommy L. caught this 24 pound, 47” musky on a white spinnerbait. In addition, a total of 131 pike were boated by the group in 3 days of fishing with his father and grandfather on the French River. A trip that Tommy will never forget! Will you be next?READ MORE >
“Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.” – Charles W. Waterman It’s a passion that etches itself into an individual’s spirit. Each cast is like a painter’s brushstroke in the canvas of the soul where nature is the setting and the passion for the sport are the various colors that breathes life into the angler’s work. Every scratch on the lure, frayed line, and even every reel that lost its crank are all part of the sport we call musky fishing. Musky fishing is not something for the faint of heart as it takes time and dedication to find those “best” spots, earning one of its various nicknames’ “the fish of ten-thousand casts”. Chris Burnette and Harry Haddix, returned to Bear’s Den Lodge because of their successful previous outings fishing the French River, Ontario. [caption id="atREAD MORE >
National Fishing Week, encourages families come together and celebrate one of Canada's oldest family pastimes. Sometimes its new families that wish to tie new bonds and other families that are keep the spirit of sport fishing alive by adventuring to the French River. [caption id="attachment_1996" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Urs donating his trophy 48 inch French River Muskie from 1986 to Bear's Den Lodge (2016)[/caption] One such family is the Duelbergs whose specialize in Large and Smallmouth Bass fishing. While bass maybe their favourite species to fish, they never miss out on any other opportunities. Urs was one of the first in the family to catch a trophy sized French River musky when he was 13 years old in 1986 while fishing with his father. His son, Mathias, continues in his father's footsteps where the two of them were out bass fishing late evening in the shallows. IREAD MORE >
The Outdoor Journal Radio Show is live every Saturday morning 8:05AM EST. If you're in southern Ontario (Canada), tune your radio to Sportsnet 590 The FAN AM or visit www.odjradio.com and listen live online. Angelo Viola has hosted Sportsnet 590 The FAN's "Outdoor Journal Radio Show" since 1996. Traveling around the world to produce popular television programs such as "The Fish'n Canada Show" and "The Outdoor Journal", Ang and fellow explorer Pete Bowman are no strangers to outdoor life. They use their experience and a unique sense of humour to cover the environmental issues and events that are important to the Canadian Outdoorsman. Listen to our Online Radio Outdoor Journal Radio - Bear’s Den LodgeREAD MORE >
It's official, French River makes the record books again! Dick Sprenkle's musky is recognized by Muskies Inc. for the Men's Top 25 for 2016. Dick's 54 inch French River trophy fish was successfully caught and released on July 22, 2016 while using a Wiley Muskie King Jointed 9 fishing lure. [caption id="attachment_1546" align="aligncenter" width="926"] Dick Sprenkle with his 54 inch French River Musky, "Catch of a Lifetime"[/caption] French River Places in Muskies Inc. Records of Men's Top 25 for 2016 in the January/February 2017 edition. [caption id="attachment_1738" align="aligncenter" width="884"] Dick Sprenkle at places 20th out of the Men's Top 25.[/caption] Congratulations, Dick as you joined the record book of other record muskies at Bear's Den Lodge.READ MORE >
The women who fish from the Great Canadian Female Anglers finished out the 2016 season for Bear's Den Lodge, braving the late autumn chill with their favourite Musky Guide, Joe Barefoot. For the last two days of the season all the women caught their break and went home with smiles as no one was "skunked" during the fishing expedition, even if they could not find their own elusive French River trophy fish. They instead found their lines tight with other species of fish and the comradery in fishing together. [caption id="attachment_1640" align="aligncenter" width="625"] Heather's Pike photo by Joe Barefoot[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1638" align="aligncenter" width="960"] Flat Rapids in Late Autumn, photoed by Lori Kenny-Skerritt[/caption] Authored by Joe Barefoot, M.B.READ MORE >
I must say that Alicia Moir-Raytrowsky and I have really enjoyed our time at #BearsDenLodge on the French River. Today I managed to catch my first musky! After searching all over for one... I finally caught one right off the dock. He came out from under the dock and t boned my swim bait. He was probably the fish that took Alicia's little pike she caught on our first night here. We weren't able to land him then because he wasn't really hooked and we didn't have a big enough net at the time to grab him. A couple days later and he was ready for another "meal"! - T.J. Raytrowsky [caption id="attachment_1572" align="alignright" width="400"] T.J. measuring his French River Trophy. Photo Credit: Alicia Raytrowsky[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1573" align="alignleft" width="400"] Elusive, but only a cast away.[/caption]READ MORE >
Our party of four from various parts of Pennsylvania (PA) traveled north for a week of fishing on the French River Delta near Hartley Bay, Ontario. Our destination was Bear's Den Lodge which we had been introduced to over fifteen years ago by members of the Johnson Family, who have been coming to Bear's Den for fifty-one years. We began the week of July 17, 2016 on a positive note with Bob Griffith, State College, PA catching a 52 1/2 " Muskie, his personal best ever. Optimism was high as we fished through the week with several smaller muskies caught. Then on Thursday, July 21, I caught and released a 40" Muskie after a thrilling fight. We fished the next day, Friday, July 22, our last day of this trip, with some nice pike caught, but no muskies. We agreed after a mid-afternoon meal to not fish late (10:00 PM normally) and be back to the lodge by 9:00 PM to pack for our tREAD MORE >
"It hit in three to four feet away from the boat. It was raining. The muskie gave me a real fight, it ran three times taking my black and chartreuse eagle tail under the boat. What a fight!" With a quick measure and photo of the French River musky, Bob Griffith of State College, PA, released his largest muskie to date during the group's 51st stay at Bear's Den Lodge. Since 1989, Bob reports that he has caught other muskies in past, but was concerned about releasing them quickly so "Not all fish were photographed". [caption id="attachment_1538" align="alignleft" width="625"] Larry William's Muskie from released 2 years ago (at the time of writing this).[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1539" align="alignleft" width="625"] Bob Griffith with a previous French River Muskie.[/caption] The 51st Year Johnson Adventure Tour Group from PA have enjoyed many other musky catches andREAD MORE >
"Nothing like catching musky in your front yard!" said Chris Burnette to the start of his and Harry Haddix’s week at Bear’s Den Lodge. The seasoned West Virginian muskie hunters had fished some of their favorite French River muskie holes, but after a long day they decided to troll home during the twilight hours. As the minutes passed so did the casts as they entered into Bear’s Den Bay when Harry’s last cast of the evening had action. A boil of water rose to the surface as Harry was retrieving his suick. His hands quickened as he worked his action, doing all that he could to entice the would be trophy to clench his lure, but to his and Chris’s dismay “she would not take the bait” as she eventually lost interest. Without giving up, Harry cast three more times into the same hole he originally brought her out of and to his surprise he hooked into a different muskiREAD MORE >
Returning to the French River Bill and Nancy Hamblin talk to the lodge owners, Art & Brenda Barefoot, before the hunt for the elusive French River Muskie. The weather conditions for the day were spotty with high winds and choppy waters but no musky can be caught without putting effort into it. In their search for the massive monster, Bill trolls his chartreuse bladed black bucktail and bam, the fight begins! Within the first two hours after to their arrival to the Bear's Den Lodge Bill hooked into an impressive 45.5 inch Musky, creating the first of another successful muskie hunt. [caption id="attachment_1465" align="aligncenter" width="578"] Bill's first day French River Fishing , an impressive 45.5 inch Musky[/caption] On day two, just after breakfast at the Lodge, Bill and Nancy went searching for another French River Musky. Once again after several hours of dedication in flailiREAD MORE >
In early spring, right after ice has thawed, walleye will spawn shortly after. The next ten days from pickerel spawn, they become rather lethargic - not wanting to go very far from theirREAD MORE >
"What's So Great About The Great Lakes?": Picture the world as it was 12,000 years ago where the land was covered by melting mile-thick glaciers. This amazing sculpture of ice, carved the land and crREAD MORE >
What Is A Staycation? Staycation is a term that was originally coined in the market crisis of 2008. Now in 2020, Covid-19 has dictated the need for public health and tourism to restrict travelREAD MORE >
Bear's Den Lodge, a "historical" museum, was built in 1925 for a New York Banker, H. Martin. Mr. Martin hired Bud West, local tourist lodge operator, to build a lodge on the property were an old loggREAD MORE >
Canada has held a long tradition of conservation. It first started with First Nations (Native Americans). Next, was the movement of university-trained foresters and industry leaders near the end of tREAD MORE >
2870J Hartley Bay Rd.
Alban, Ont. P0M 1A0
Tel: (705) 857-2757
124 Shagbark Rd.
Alum Bank, PA 15521
Tel: (814) 839-2443
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YOUR Canadian COTTAGE FOR YOUR NEXT GETAWAY! French River Cottages available May, 2023 - 0ctober 2023. 3 day minimum charge per person applies. Prevailing rates available for shorter stays. Less than 3 days have added charges and are available. Make memories with family and friends on the French River, arrive as guests and leave as family!View Promotion